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1 of 7 Crucial Elements of Social Media ROI for Churches

When your pastor prepares for each week’s message, 20-40 hours of his time are spent for about 30 minutes worth of content. That’s a ratio of anywhere between 40:1 to 80:1, meaning that the results should be pretty great to justify the effort expended. Of course, we don’t look at it this way because the Word of God never returns void (Isaiah 55:11). Nevertheless, understanding how to better prepare and deliver a message, along with the methods and techniques to improve are all part of a teaching pastor’s arsenal. Over time, the pastor understands how to become a better communicator and how to share the Bible in practical and revelatory ways.

They key is to always be learning, ready to apply the insights for more effective life-application. In the same way, we should evaluate all of our significant communication methods and be diligent about improving in whatever message or activity we share with our communities.

With social media, churches must learn to transition from simply using it as a shiny electronic bullhorn to measuring the results of planning, feedback and effectiveness. To be successful, we must:

“Measure what can be measured, and make measurable what cannot be measured.”

— Galileo Galilei

You can measure anything, to a point. Some measurements, such as click-through rates & re-tweets, can be measured precisely. Other measures, such as spiritual growth, are measured along the lines of “more like this” or “less like that” and have evidence in spiritual fruitfulness.  Regardless of the kind of measurement, we can, over time, learn how effective we are in reaching, engaging & discipling our communities.

A Quick Recap

I’ll be diving into each of the following 7 Crucial Elements one at a time. To recap, here’s the entire list:

1) Know How Social Media Integrates the Vision of Your Church

2) Decide What’s Measureable – and What’s Not

3) Define ROM (Return On Ministry)

4) Which Metrics Matter?

5) Empower Every Ministry with Tools & Training

6) Drive People to Decisions

7) Share Success Stories

My goal of quantifying and categorizing these 7 Crucial Elements is to help give a framework for church leaders to truly leverage the exponential reach and influence of social media.

1) Know How Social Media Integrates the Vision of Your Church

“What’s the unique God-sized vision for your church?” is a question I frequently ask pastors. They’re quick to give me a line, a statement or a story that usually gives a strong indication of what and how their local church is up to. “Why are you on Twitter?” is my follow-up question. Ironically, these same pastors who were so quick to give a detailed answer about vision fail to provide a vision-focused answer for their social media efforts (if they’re even using social media).

The reason, I believe, is because they’ve not thought about social media from the perspective of “Why?”, but only as another communication channel. Yes, it is a way to communicate, but unless you know why you’re doing something, you’ll likely not be getting the right kind of results from it. When filtered through the vision of the church, the purpose and methodology for using social media becomes clear.

First, know why you want to use social media. Only then will you be able to correctly identify when, how, what, where and who will be using it.

Your social media efforts should include all of the following:

  • Real people behind the account name. These people share with those in their social media sphere of influence and do more than provide another marketing channel of information about your church and ministries.
  • Helpful dialogue. Limiting any communication to talking “at” someone instead of talking “with” someone is ultimately meaningless (and fruitless).
  • Your value proposition. This isn’t a feature or a benefit of your organization, but the life-blood that answers exactly why you exists and what makes your church unique.

Any and all social media, from Facebook to Twitter to Google+, all rely on the same thing: relationships. Real relationships, not marketing speak, are an interactive set of communications across many mediums.

Here’s your exercise: apply the filter of “does how we use social media line up with the vision of our church?” What you’ll find is either a filter that reveals good intentions but limited results or a vision statement that needs to be refined. Look, a vision for your church is greater than “reach the greater metropolitan area where we live with the truth of Jesus Christ.” That’s the Great Commission, not a unique vision. When you can say “our church is different and set apart from every other church in our area because of ‘X’”, you’re looking squarely at the vision of your church.

Social media’s effectiveness for your church is directly proportional to how well it integrates with the vision of your church and the consistency with which you use it.

So, how is your church doing in meeting the first crucial element of social media ROI? What are you doing to filter your social media efforts against the question “Why?” and the measurement of life change?

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Anthony has worked in the secular world of A/V, the ministry world of church staff and the para-church ministry of three companies that serve the church space (Auxano, Fellowship Technologies and Worlds of Wow!). Today, his consultancy focuses on helping churches and para-church ministries leverage appropriate systems, processes and technologies for more effective ministry. Anthony leads out of his strengths of effectively caring for people, efficiently managing resources and enabling scalable growth. He has been consulting, teaching, writing and speaking to church and business leaders for nearly 20 years.